A “good coaching” six points and a “take it from the receiver’s hands” six points, that’s how Alex Williams described his two defensive touchdowns — providing all but two of Farragut’s 14 points in a win versus West last Friday.
“At practice, our coaches do a really good job of coaching us up on those screens,” said Williams, a senior outside linebacker, after his 32-yard interception-turned-touchdown of a Runnin’ Rebels screen pass in the third quarter became the first FHS points.
Thanks in large part to Williams, the state’s No. 3-ranked Class 6A Admirals overcame a 9-0 halftime deficit to stay unbeaten at 6-0, winning 14-9 in Eddie Courtney Stadium/Bill Clabo Field Sept. 22.
“Whenever I saw it form I just tried jumping on it and I got it. And it was just green from there,” he added.
On the second turnover-turned-touchdown, an apparent forced fumble after a West reception at the Runnin’ Rebels 49 late in the third quarter, “I was a little late on my drop and I saw him catch it and I just took it out of his hands,” Williams said about his steal and 49-yard TD run. “Then I heard one of my teammates yell ‘run,’ so I ran.”
Holding penalties helped slow the Admirals’ offense, including one that nullified a 21-yard touchdown pass on a dump-off from Jake Evans, junior quarterback, to Isaiah Gibbs, junior running back, late in the third quarter.
“The defense really stepped up tonight,” Williams said. “West’s defense was crazy, but our defense stepped up and did what they needed to do to finish out the game.”
“Defense really stepped up when we needed to,” Nolan Davis, senior defensive lineman, said. “It was a tough one, but I’m glad we brought out a win there.”
Davis and Williams joined Nathan Harmon, junior linebacker; Cade Burkey, senior linebacker, and Caleb Kuhn, junior defensive end, among the key defenders holding West’s offense to one short scoring drive.
Burkey finished the game with 20 tackles [including 11 solo stops]. He also had a critical red-zone interception. Kuhn had 12 tackles [including three sacks] and forced a fumble. Harmon recovered a fumble and finished with nine tackles.
West’s TD drive, capped by a 29-yard scoring pass, came after one of a handful of Farragut special teams mistakes: a fumbled punt return was recovered by West at the FHS 33 early in the second quarter.
Burkey’s interception near the FHS goal-line, which killed a Runnin’ Rebels drive that reached the Farragut 10, came with 4:12 left in the first half.
However, a high snap to Jake Evans, FHS junior quarterback, resulted in a safety for West two plays later.
Harmon’s fumble recovery ended West’s first scoring chance, which started at the Ads’ 29 midway into the first quarter. Fearing his punt would be blocked, FHS senior punter Griffen Swicegood took off running but fell short of the first down.
“I just think we got really prepared through the week. Our coaches help us,” Harmon said. “This is our Homecoming Week. … I knew West would be fired up to play us, so we just came out hard.”
About being a target as 2016 Class 5A state champs, “[Head] coach [Eddie] Courtney’s been taking about that all year, that we’re going to get the best that everybody’s got,” Harmon said. “We try to come out firing and not underestimate anybody and be ready.”
Wyatt Lucas, FHS junior defensive back, salted away victory thanks to his interception and 27-yard return to the West 9 with just 1:01 left in the game.
“I saw the play before that he was looking at my side, and I was kind of ready for him to come back to my side since he completed the pass,” Lucas said. “He just threw it late and I just committed on the ball and got it.”
About defense helping to carry the team, Lucas said, “We’ve had to do that a lot this year, actually. Our offense just can’t get into the groove.”
After Williams’ second defensive touchdown, a two-point conversion pass from Evans to Gibbs accounted for the other FHS points.
Evans replaced injured starter Gavin Wilkinson, a sophomore, whose helmet was knocked off following a sack in the second quarter and was slow to get up. No other injury details were available at deadline.
Anthony Lawson, FHS senior nose guard, limped off the field with assistance after a lower leg injury. No other details were available at deadline.
The status of senior quarterback Max Travis and junior running back Kyle Carter, both missing the previous two games due to injury, was unknown at deadline.
Senior defensive end Nnamdi McSwine, who suffered a serious arm injury at Jefferson County, is expected to return before season’s end according to Courtney.